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Unmasking our Idols

Please fill in the blanks below:

_______________ comes first in my life.

_______________ influences the choices I make

______________ forms my perspective, attitudes, & beliefs

______________determines how I spend my time.

Whatever we write in the above blanks, is the force that rules our lives. It is what we worship, bow down to. It is our idol!

Next give the following some deep thought.

Can whatever we wrote in those blanks offer us eternal life? Can they offer peace in the midst of a storm? Can they offer solutions that just seemed beyond our understanding? Can they offer forgiveness. Can they offer guidance or light in our darkness? Can they put the broken pieces of our lives back together? Can they faithfully fulfill our needs?

Yet they do offer something. They can offer us eternal death. And existence forever separated from God.

Have we stopped to think that we have made other people, our jobs, seeking after money or pleasure, or even just pursuing our own will, the things we bow down to instead of God? If we give more consideration to these than we do to God, we have made them idols.

That may be shocking to us. Yet, hopefully this realization will shock us into making God first in our lives. That God’s word will influence the choices we make. That His Truths will form our perspectives and attitudes. That we will seek to follow God’s in how we spend our time.

These are not what they seem!

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry, 1 Corinthians 10:14,ESV

God’s Way vs Man’s Way

In light of the trauma cast throughout our country in recent days, we grasp at words wherever we can find them to help us find sanity in this insane crises. And it seems to me it comes down to finding Truth. For without Truth, we will search in vain for words to bring peace in the midst of our chaos.

But how can our country expect to find Truth, when we reject the one true source of Truth? Nevertheless, we continue plunging forward under the false impression that we are doing so in the name of personal freedom. We have thrown off the restraints that have restricted what we became convinced would make us happy.

Here is a brief sampling of the restraints we have discarded:

Wisdom to discern what is good and what is not.

“Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.” Proverbs 28:26 ESV

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!”Psalm 111:10 ESV

Peace in the midst of life’s storms.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

Soundness of mind/freedom from fear.

I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Psalm 34:4

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7 ESV

So, when we throw off the ability to recognize what is good and what is not, where does that lead?

So, when we reject God’s peace, what’s the outcome when the storms of life face plant us to the ground?

So, when we cast off God’s offer of soundness of mind and to be free of fear, how will we know what to do when we are threatened?

Replacing lies with Truth thoughts…

We have Recognized. We have Rejected. Now it’s time to replace!

Replacing fiery dart thoughts with Truth thoughts

Something that often gets overlooked, is the necessity of replacing the lies of a fiery dart. For the empty space left when the lie was rejected, needs to be filled. Otherwise when the lie returns, and it will return, the lie gains reentry. This is when Truth thoughts come into play. For thoughts about what is true are required to fill the void left by the rejected lie. And to know what Truth thoughts to call upon, we must be familiar with the source of where they are contained. That, of course, is God’s word, the Bible. Therefore, we must be prepared and stand ready to wield this Sword of Truth, if these lies are to be extinguished.

Doubt and confusion, resided in the background of my thoughts. Every ready to spring into action when given the opportunity. Even though I had been a Christian for many years, I had allowed too much of the world’s concepts of truth to influence my attitudes, perspectives, and actions. It was easier to listen to the world rather than take time to delve into the Bible for answers. Needless to say, doubt and confusion were given many opportunities to inject their poison. Plain and simple – I didn’t know enough of what the Bible had to say, in regard to my doubts and confusion. As a result, my skill in the use of my Sword of Truth was sorely lacking.

My only hope to gain strength and successfully fight off the lies of the enemy, was to daily expose my thoughts to the Truths of Scripture. It is the main food for any soldier in God’s army. In my weakened state, God nourished me with a simple but powerful Truth to rebuff the enemy. By applying the Truth of Isaiah 54:17a, “No weapon that is formed against you will succeed;” to refer to the weapon of fiery darts, the lies were thwarted.

This verse has become the first swipe of my Sword of Truth in my attack. This affords me the opportunity to search for a specific word from God to extinguish a specific lie. Thereafter, I could wield my sword with tailor made precision to attack and extinguish the lie.

The benefit of searching for specific scriptures to add to our weapon cache, is obvious. The more our weapon supply is increased, the greater our victories over the enemy. That translates into our becoming more knowledgeable of the Truths of God’s Word. Knowledge that empowers us to be equipped with the weapons needed to counter Satan’s attacks.

This taste of victory over the manipulation and deception of the lies is sweet. It is the one thing that guarantees our release from the bondage we have been tricked into believing is freedom. This Truth sets us free from the lies that have created our bondage.

Rejecting the enemy and his weapons

Step 2 – Rejecting the fiery darts/lies of the enemy

As we grow in our knowledge of Truth, by comparison our ability to recognize what is not Truth grows. But even recognizing the enemy and his weapons, doesn’t insure that we won’t be fired upon. Often, and especially when we are in a weakened state, the enemy’s weapons will strike. And as he so often does, he will aim them at the areas where we are most vulnerable.

Since we have recognized the enemy and his lies, the timing of step 2 is critical, if the enemy is to be repelled. Allowing the lie to sit awhile, even if you recognize it as a lie, will only allow it to gain a footing in your thoughts. The following quote from my book paints a concise picture of how to react to the enemy’s lies and the consequences if we fail to reject it immediately.

Above all, we must be especially alert against the beginnings of temptation, for the enemy is more easily conquered if he is refused admittance to the mind and is met beyond the threshold when he knocks. Someone has said very aptly: ‘Resist the beginnings; remedies come too late, when by long delay the evil has gained strength.’ First, a mere thought comes to mind, then strong imagination, followed by pleasure, evil delight, and consent. Thus, because he is not resisted in the beginning, Satan gains full entry. And the longer a man delays in resisting, so much the weaker does he become each day, while the strength of the enemy grows against him.1

p. 66, Fiery Darts: Satan’s Weapon of Choice

Believe me, it’s dangerous to continue playing and replaying the lies (fiery darts) our flesh seems to be hungry for. The enemy doesn’t care if you recognize the fiery dart as one of his lies. His aim is to plant the lie just long enough to inject its poison. The longer that lie remains the more the poison he can inject into our thinking.

He plays to our flesh, that part of us that wants what we want, when we want it. As long as we live here on this earth, this civil war will always be raging. When we give into our natural self, strongholds and false arguments from the anti-God society that is prevalent today, will begin determining our attitude and actions. Acting in tandem, Satan, our flesh, and the world will bear down upon us, tempting us at every turn.

Our skill at recognizing Satan’s weapons develops as daily we become more familiar with the Voice of Truth. So as soon as the enemy shows himself, the Voice of Truth will expose him. Without hesitation, we will act upon our training and reject the fiery dart before its poison has a chance to enter our thoughts.

After that, Step 3 will complete the battle plan.

The Real Me…

Ever had a thought intrude upon your mind that made you shutter? Have you had thoughts about a situation that just couldn’t move beyond the negative? Do these types of thoughts plant seeds of concern about who you really are? If we persist in giving sway to these concerns, they will set us on a path of lies and deception.

But as Christians, we have a defense against such deception. It is clearly stated in over 100 verses in God’s authoritative word that our true identity is based on our personal relationship with God. By believing in Christ and accepting His sacrifice on our behalf, our bodies became the dwelling place of Christ via the Holy Spirit. At the moment of salvation, our old self’s took on a new identity. Therefore, my true identity, my authentic self, is based on my new life in Christ. I am no longer deceived. I have the assurance my negative feelings are not my true self. In other words, “I was one way then I was completely different and what happened in between was Him.” (Season 1, Ep. 1, The Chosen)

Ponder these Truths:

…and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24 ESV

Yet, when we reject God’s authoritative word, we open our sin nature (our old identity) to any and everything false. And today the downward spiral of the morals of our country gives evidence of the consequences of such rejection. Some have even digressed to the point that they place authority and value on feelings, over God’s transcendent truths, to define their authentic selves.

In short, the modern self is one where authenticity is achieved by acting outwardly in accordance with one’s inward feelings.

Strange New World: How Thinkers and Activists redefined identity and sparked the Sexual Revolution by Carl T. Trueman

When the feelings of ‘self’ dictate our attitude and actions, we are capable of choices that fly in the face of God. Choices that will eventually set us and those directly affected by our choices on a path of destruction. Attitudes and actions that deep within our hearts we know are wrong.

Feelings as authority vs God as authority?

The Scriptures explain the nature of our old selves and why the world rejects those of us who belong to God, as well as God’s authoritative word.

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 1 John 3:1 ESV

To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires,..Ephesians 4:22

Consider

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.

I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10 ESV

Setting my mind on:

Pulling against each other.

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. Romans 8:5-8

In church circles the word flesh is tossed about nonchalantly due to our familiarity with its definition. But I bet it sounds pretty weird to those without a church background! Therefore, I will attempt to decode its meaning.

We all understand that we possess what is called a human nature. That is what separates us from the animals. It’s how we think, feel, and act.

When a person believes in Christ, the Holy Spirit of God takes up residence within that person which in essence make God her Boss. An unbeliever, on the other hand, is her own boss . Still, both the believer and unbeliever possess a human nature. We now call this our flesh. Simply put:

The flesh is the part of a believer that disagrees with the Spirit. The makeup of a believer is different from that of an unbeliever, in that an unbeliever does not have the Spirit of God indwelling them. In the case of an unbeliever, the flesh is in agreement with the spirit of that unbeliever.

This state of being reveals why fiery darts wield so much power. An unbeliever has no resource to determine truth other that their own experience, coupled with the world’s mind set of truth. Without the absolute truth of God’s word, for them truth is ever changing.

Yet, a believer has the Holy Spirit of God dwelling within. If a believer maintains a daily communication with God through prayer and the study of Scripture, then what they think, feel, and act is based on the never changing truths therein. A believer gets in trouble when they drift away from that two-fold communication. The less we know of God’s truths, the more vulnerable we become to fiery darts.

For you see, the flesh (in others word the human spirit) is always opposed to the Holy Spirit. But one leads to death (an eternity without God) , the other leads to life (on earth and in eternity with God)

Stop now and ask yourself this question,

“Have I set my mind on what my flesh desires?”

or

“Have I set my mind on what the Holy Spirit desires?”

Who is our enemy?

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When we fail to identify our enemy!

     His manipulation and deception go forth unhindered. He is able to move incognito throughout the world and mess with people’s lives.  His efforts to turn humankind away from God meets with little resistance.

     Even Christians are susceptible to his deception and manipulation.  By ignoring those tactics, our attitude toward those who reject God and are living in rebellion towards Him can take on a condemning nature.  Thereby painting Christians as enemies. The enemy’s temptations can influence us to treat those who live contrary to God’s word in a less than loving way.  Our misconception is by showing love towards those who have rejected God and His ways then we are condoning their sin. However, when we fail to exhibit love and forgiveness, we take on the characteristics of the true enemy. 

     The world doesn’t understand how a person can be accepted, while their sin can be rejected. Christians understand by acknowledging and forsaking our sin and receiving Christ’s forgiveness, we are accepted. 

     The true enemy of our souls shoots lies towards us with the intention of destroying us. Why? He hates God. Therefore he will steal, kill, and destroy every aspect of God in our lives. 

     The enemy is exposed by the light of God’s word. But if we haven’t given our lives to Christ, we will remain blind to this fact. Apart from God’s truth, we won’t recognize thoughts, feelings, or actions that are being influenced by our enemy. We won’t recognize when our faith is being compromised to believe things contrary to God’s Truth. 

 

 

 

 

     

What to do?

Version 2

What do we do when in spite of all that we know and believe, the darkness continues to stalk us? We wait and wait but the hoped for relief remains a no show.

Instead of giving in and sinking lower and lower, try putting one foot in front of the other. Whatever we do we do not give into the hopelessness.

Instead we hold up our shield of faith and extinguish all the fiery darts of the enemy. (based on Ephesians 6:16.) One fiery dart at a time.

We replace every fiery dart thought with a Truth thought from God.

We keep moving forward, depending on God’s strength.

 

And if in spite of all of this, the darkness remains?

Remember, God’s way is the only way. There is no other way that will bring the help we need. Focus on trusting God to come through for us.

This will require faith. Maybe more than we have at the moment. Trust God to supply what we lack.

Ask for help to shut out the negative debilitating thoughts; to replace them with God’s thoughts. .

Maybe it’s been lingering far longer than we could imagine.

That doesn’t make God’s Word any less true.

Yet the stalking negativity sometimes keeps hanging around.

Then just keep putting one foot of faith in front of the other. Looking neither to the right or the left. 

Keep in mind, everyday won’t be like this. There will be better days here and there. We won’t drown in just one day. 

Hebrews 10:36, You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.

Teens and Fiery Darts

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     Recently, I was invited to speak to a group of teenage girls on the subject of Fiery Darts. A subject we ALL are affected by, no matter our age. I was thrilled to be able to offer these precious young ladies advice that would prepare them to follow the path God has chosen for them. 

     They learned that every attitude or behavior (acceptable or unacceptable) begins with a thought. Unacceptable thoughts can originate from their own 1)sinful nature, 2)the World, and 3)Satan.  Satan uses all three to deceive and manipulate the formation of our thoughts to suit his purpose in ruining our witness.

     We compared God’s plan (Jeremiah 29:11), Satan’s plan to steal, kill, and destroy (fr John 10:10a) , and God’s plan to equip them to defeat the enemy (Ephesians 6:16) From 1 Peter 5:8 they were warned to take seriously the enemy’s attacks.

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     They were informed that without God’s filter of what is true;  lyrics, books, movies, websites, and even social media that is contrary to God’s truths, will begin to shape how they view sin. 

     It was impressed upon them that if they ignore God by spending little time with Him in prayer and His word, then the lies of fiery darts will infiltrate their minds and will begin to rule their thinking.  Eventually, they will see wrong as right and right as wrong.  

Isaiah 5:20 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness…

 

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They were reminded that

God has plans to prosper you, not to harm you, to give you a future and a hope.     

         Satan’s plans are to destroy you and your future. He will lead you to your destruction one fiery dart at a time

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         The following steps were given to counter Satan’s attacks

  1. Recognize the fiery darts of the enemy (absorb God’s word where you will become wise in recognizing the difference between thoughts that come from God and thoughts that do not) 

  2. Reject such thoughts immediately. (the longer you think about them the more their lies will take root)

  3. Replace fiery darts with God’s Truth Thoughts. (every time that thought enters your mind, quote a God Truth. 

By applying these lessons regarding fiery darts, the benefits of the following verse will be theirs to claim.

Do not be conformed to this world, but continuously be transformed by the renewing of your minds (as you spend time with God in prayer and His word) so that you may be able to determine what God’s will is—what is proper, pleasing, and perfect.  (and not be so easily manipulated and deceived by the enemy)  Romans 12:2 ISV

 

 

Who do we believe?

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Why do we so easily believe the lies of fiery darts? But struggle to believe Truths from God’s Word?

   If the darkness of the world, Satan, and our flesh influences our thinking more than God’s Word, then our thoughts, attitudes, and actions will reflect that darkness.  Thus our focus will be on the darkness, blinding us to the light of God’s truth that lies beyond it. 

  Yet, if we desire to believe God over the lies of the enemy, we must do the following:  

We must seek God.

When God speaks we need to listen.

When God speaks we need to believe.

When God speaks we need to act on His words.

Take to heart the following:

…when you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you. Is 43:2 ESV

The LORD is the One who goes before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you. Do not be afraid or discourages. Deut. 31:8

Don’t be afraid anymore, only believe. Mark 5:36 NASV

Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16

   Yet sometimes the problems we face threaten to overwhelm us. We believe God,. We believe His Word. We go to it daily.  We talk to God about it a lot, but the hoped for solution evades us! What do we do in situations like that?

We wait!

   As we wait, we continue to pray and search the Scriptures. We focus on verses like the ones above. We become alert to the encouragement God sends us as we go about our day. Through those encouragements and God’s word, we grow in our faith and perspective of the problem.

   We learn to recognize the fiery darts and how to reject them. We learn to replace them with the Truth thoughts from Scripture that God directs us to.

   We may not feel so good about the way things are going, but we must remember that if God says He will never leave us, that He will not fail us, then in spite of how things look, we must take Him at His word. 

Our well being depends on who we believe!